The Canadiens finish the season with the fifth-best draft odds

Regardless of how the picks before Montreal's go, they are bound to add a very talented player to their prospect pool.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Notable 2024 forwards

SKA Hockey Club player, Ivan Demidov (11) seen in action...
SKA Hockey Club player, Ivan Demidov (11) seen in action... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Without knowing whether a trade will be made to move the Jets pick up to have two selections in the top 15 picks, it's difficult to predict who will be selected by the Canadiens. So with that in mind, I would believe that there is a group of five forwards that could be selected. Although there are quality defensemen with high NHL projectability that will be available, I don't foresee Hughes leaning that way.

Ivan Demidov sits atop my wishlist for the Canadiens and the 18-year-old Russian has been dominant in the Russian MHL. He has tantalizing one-on-one puck skills and his skating is explosive, with very good edges. Demidov is a great playmaker and goal-scorer and he looks like a top-line winger.

Cayden Lindstrom is a mean, big, rugged center with strong skating mechanics and skills that surprise many, because of his large frame. Lindstrom holds off defenders with his reach and has the strength to rush the puck to the net all by himself. He is a natural center, which is highly coveted and his compete level is very high, he would be a hard player to pass up.

Tij Iginla is a chip off the old block, he plays a power game just like his dad Jarome did and he loves to shoot the puck. Iginla is a solid two-way player, but in the offensive zone, he thrives and dominates the competition with his smart playmaking. His threat as a shooter and his slick puck skills make him hard to defend against and he isn't shy to play with physicality.

Cole Eiserman is a pure goal-scorer and he thrives in the offensive zone with the puck on his stick, a threat to shoot at all times, he uses that to deceive goalies. The shot is the best asset of his game, but he is a great stick handler and his playmaking isn't to be scoffed at. His all-around game has been questioned, but he is a year younger than many of his fellow draftees, meaning he still has a full season with the Boston University Terriers ahead of him to hone his skills.

Berkly Catton is a dynamic offensive talent, who plays bigger than his size; he is relentless on the backcheck. But where his effectiveness comes to life is with the puck from the neutral zone down to the attacking zone. Catton has elite puck skills and dynamic skating, he exploits open space and at the junior level, he makes defences and goalies look silly routinely.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of other options and perhaps Hughes has his eye on somebody else, but I would be surprised if one of the five forwards mentioned above didn't end up with the Canadiens before the first round ends. One of the next tier, however, could be intriguing enough for Hughes to do his best to move up with the Jets pick and swing for Liam Greentree, Beckett Sennecke, Dean Letourneau or Andrew Basha.